Second to skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer in American men. Roughly 1 in 7 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime.
What is prostate cancer?
Found only in men, the prostate is a gland that sits at the base of the bladder and plays an important role in sperm transport and therefore reproduction. Unfortunately, as men age and the prostate naturally grows, errors occur in cellular growth/replication that can ultimately lead to prostate cancer. Factors influencing these errors and cancer diagnosis are age, African ancestry, family history, and certain inherited genetic conditions. Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer diagnosed in men, with 1 in 7 men being diagnosed in their lifetime.
How is prostate cancer diagnosed?
Prostate cancer is generally asymptomatic in its early stages and is largely diagnosed during screening with your primary care provider. Screening includes a simple blood drawn lab, called a PSA (prostate-specific antigen), and a digital rectal exam. The American Urological Association recommends that screening should start at age 55, for those at average risk. Men with strong family history and/or other risk factors should have a discussion with their primary care provider about beginning prostate cancer screening at an earlier age. If a patient’s PSA is elevated and/or has an abnormal rectal exam, historically the patient would have undergone a prostate biopsy for diagnosis. However, there are several new blood and urine tests to evaluate for prostate cancer in those with an elevated PSA. These tests are available through your Urologist. Additionally, the advancement in imaging, specifically MRI, is evolving and can be utilized in the diagnosis of prostate cancer.
What treatments are available?
If diagnosed with prostate cancer the patient should have a comprehensive conversation with their urologist about treatment options and their side effects. Treatment selection is multifactorial including age, the overall health of the patient, staging of the cancer, and a patient’s values and preferences. Treatment options range from observation, external beam radiation, radioactive seeds placement into the prostate (brachytherapy), removal of the prostate (robotic-assisted or open prostatectomy), or in advanced stages hormone therapy. Prostate cancer is a very treatable and curable disease when found early. Talk to your primary care doctor about getting screened and ask if it’s appropriate for you.